“Patty!” Pauline protested laughingly—“Was there ever such a child for letting things out!”
“I haven’t!” the child exclaimed, “only now—it can’t make any difference.”
“There is mystery in the very air!” Hilary insisted. “Oh, what have you all been up to?”
“You’re not to go in there!” Patience cried, as Hilary stopped before the door of her own and Pauline’s room.
“Of course you’re not,” Pauline told her. “It strikes me, for company—you’re making yourself very much at home! Walking into peoples’ rooms.” She led the way along the hall to the spare room, throwing the door wide open.
“Oh!” Hilary cried, then stood quite still on the threshold, looking about her with wide, wondering eyes.
The spare room was grim and gray no longer. Hilary felt as if she must be in some strange, delightful dream. The cool green of the wall paper, with the soft touch of pink in ceiling and border, the fresh white matting, the cozy corner opposite—with its delicate old-fashioned chintz drapery and big cushions, the new toilet covers—white over green, the fresh curtains at the windows, the cushioned window seats, the low table and sewing-chair, even her own narrow white bed, with its new ruffled spread, all went to make a room as strange to her, as it was charming and unexpected.
“Oh,” she said again, turning to her mother, who had followed them up-stairs, and stood waiting just outside the door. “How perfectly lovely it all is—but it isn’t for me?”
“Of course it is,” Patience said. “Aren’t you company—you aren’t just Hilary now, you’re ‘Miss Shaw’ and you’re here on a visit; and there’s company asked to supper to-morrow night, and it’s going to be such fun!”
Hilary’s color came and went. It was something deeper and better than fun. She understood now why they had done this—why Pauline had said that—about her not going away; there was a sudden lump in the girl’s throat—she was glad, so glad, she had said that downstairs——about not wanting to go away.
And when her mother and Patience had gone down-stairs again and Pauline had begun to unpack the valise, as she had unpacked it a week ago at The Maples, Hilary sat in the low chair by one of the west windows, her hands folded in her lap, looking about this new room of hers.
“There,” Pauline said presently, “I believe that’s all now—you’d better lie down, Hilary—I’m afraid you’re tired.”
“No, I’m not; at any rate, not very. I’ll lie down if you like, only I know I shan’t be able to sleep.”
Pauline lowered the pillow and threw a light cover over her. “There’s something in the top drawer of the dresser,” she said, “but you’re not to look at it until you’ve lain down at least half an hour.”
“I feel as if I were in an enchanted palace,”, Hilary said, “with so many delightful surprises being sprung on me all the while.” After Pauline had gone, she lay watching the slight swaying of the wild roses in the tall jar on the hearth. The wild roses ran rampant in the little lane leading from the back of the church down past the old cottage where Sextoness Jane lived. Jane had brought these with her that morning, as her contribution to the new room.